I didn’t believe him when he told me that if I’d arrived fifteen minutes earlier, I’d be a millionaire. Who expects to be penalized for being late to a convenience store that welcomes people all hours of the day? Certainly, I hadn’t done anything wrong. Apparently I simply had bad luck.
Here’s the deal. Otherwise, that day was one of those days when everything is going perfectly: the sky is rosy, the air smells of burning leaves and the universe is grinning on its axis. I’d been at a job interview earlier, one of those interviews where you really nail it. My head was screwed on straight, and the stars had aligned like perfect outlines of mighty Greek gods.
Feeling good about everything, naturally I decided to march my way down to the corner store for some milk, bread and a scratch-off. Career-based success looming, I thought, what the hell, might as well shoot for the stars on this one.
Walking into the store, I immediately notice the carnage of a cliché party–balloons, streamers, confetti, banners—the works.
“What the hell happened to this place?”
Ken Kim smiled at me, with his most sincere clerk smile, but still looked kind of disappointed.
“You are too late. The lottery commission was just here. If you’d been here a couple minutes ago, you would have been the lucky random winner.”
I smiled back.
“What do you mean, ‘lucky random winner?’”
“Every six months, they pick a store that sells state lottery tickets, and they show up with balloons and prizes. Someone walks in the door, at noon and they win. This time the prize was a million dollars.”
“You’re shitting me, Ken.”
I bought my supplies, minus the lottery ticket, and left.
From that moment on, my day devolved. Obsessed with what could have been, I couldn’t stop dwelling on that fifteen minute coincidence. How many chances do you have to rest your feet on a stack of money that large? If I’d left the interview five minutes earlier, or traffic had been a little lighter, that would have been me. I was sure of it. Destiny. Kismet.
I just couldn’t let it go to save my life.
I let it rule me. When my girlfriend called, I snapped at her. She only wanted to check in, see how my interview went. I couldn’t help it. It wasn’t her fault I didn’t win a million bucks. It wasn’t my fault either. I couldn’t really blame anyone but the stars or the fates or the fickle nature of Lady Luck.
By the time I got home, my foul mood had rubbed off. Rather than discuss the star-crossed nature of money and luck, we argued about how dirty the apartment was. Bristling with frustration, I stormed out of our apartment, heading straight for the corner bar.
Drinking didn’t help much. Even at the bar, thunderstorms followed me. An old high school chum, the bartender overlooked my soggy attitude, pouring me stiff drinks until the baseball game turned into a green smear. After what I assumed was a lousy pitch, I must have said the wrong thing to him, because my ass was heating the curb.
I don’t know how long I wandered around in a foggy funk. My gloom touched everyone I passed. Eventually, from what I can determine, I wound up down by the pier. I woke up in the back seat of a cop car. As he roused me, the cop told me I’d broken half a dozen windows at several empty warehouses. He then deposited me unceremoniously in the city jail, leaving me a cot in a vomit-flavored cell to sleep it off and a fine of 561 dollars for destruction of property.
When I finally got home, I decided that luck wasn’t worth it. I haven’t bought a lottery ticket since.